Northern Alabama’s only abortion facility to close due to pro-life law
HUNTSVILLE, AL – The only abortion facility in northern Alabama is voluntarily shutting its doors due to a pro-life law requiring greater health and safety standards.
Alabama Women's Center for Reproductive Alternatives, located at 612 Madison Street in Huntsville, will suspend operations "before the close of business on Monday, June 30," a spokesman for the state Department of Health announced Tuesday.
Facility administrator Dalton Johnson said the facility is unable to meet the requirements laid out by the Women's Health and Safety Act, which Republican Gov. Robert Bentley signed into law April 9, 2013. In addition to requiring that abortionists have admitting privileges, the law demands that abortion offices meet the same health and safety standards as other ambulatory surgical centers.
Johnson said that the current location cannot be upgraded to meet those standards. It is in the process of applying for a license to move to a new location at 4831 Sparkman Drive, but the process may not be completed before the new law takes effect on July 1.
"The clinic is still going through the approval process with the state," Johnson told WTVM-TV. "We will continue the fight to re-open at the new facility while we continue to follow every letter of the law."
The facility has a troubled history. Last January 9, state health inspectors visiting the abortion facility found that “patient exam tables were not cleaned between patients.” The center also “failed to remove medication which had expired from inventory,” giving pregnant women expired doses of the anesthetic Lidocaine and Clonidine.
That inspection came just days after a pro-life protester was arrested for spraying holy water outside the facilities.
The possibly temporary closure will harm “women of North Alabama,” Johnson said, who “will no longer have access to the multiple health care services we provide, not just abortions.”
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The impending license surrender is a reprieve from the original date. The law was to have taken effect on last August 15. But the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Planned Parenthood Southeast, the ACLU, Reproductive Health Services, and a nurse had challenged the law, claiming that it deprived women of “essential care” like abortion.
Gov. Bentley said the bill was necessary to protect women from shoddy practices at abortion facilities statewide. One woman, Roberta Clark, had to have a ruptured fallopian tube removed in September 2010 following a botched abortion at the Birmingham Planned Parenthood, rendering her infertile.
Paramedics transported two women on the same day from the New Women All Women abortion facility in South Birmingham following botched abortions in January 2012. Medics had to carry the women to hospital gurneys in the alley, because the entrance was not accessible.
The state has three remaining abortion facilities, including one Planned Parenthood, in Montgomery, Mobile, and Tuscaloosa.